Ransomware is a serious threat to your data, and you need to take steps to protect yourself. If infected your data is encrypted, and then a ransom note appears on your computer asking for a ransom of $500 or more to get your data back. So please back up your data.
Measures to protect yourself include not running as an administrator in Windows, not clicking on links in emails, and being suspicious or anything trying to install on your computer that you didn’t ask for. Also download apps only from known good sounces, use a good SPI-class firewall, and run a top-rated antivirus. Perhaps must important is to run a cloud backup service such as Carbonite, CrashPlan, or Backblaze. These cloud backup apps are secure, and help keep your backed up data secure from ransomware.
Becoming more and more common in Windows, now we’ve seen the first ransomsomware for MacOS. It’s embedded in a torrent client and called Transmission. I don’t recommend using torrent software at all. Read more about this serious threat here: http://www.macrumors.com/2016/03/06/mac-ransomware-transmission/
As Microsoft continues it’s push to get Windows 10 on as many devices as possible with it’s free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users, the software giant has moved the Windows 10 Upgrade from the OPTIONAL Windows update list to the RECOMMENDED Windows update list. That means that if your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 computer has automatic updates turned on (and it should), and you have asked to receive not just CRITICAL updates but also RECOMMENDED updates automatically, you will automatically be upgraded to Windows 10. One morning you will wake up, turn on your monitor, and be greeted with Windows 10 without deliberately upgrading. Read more here.
No one has ever come up with a great way for us to prove who we are when we need to gain access to our cloud accounts. There must be a better way to authenticate other than a username and a password, but until security experts come up with something better that can be widely implemented, that’s what we all use. Some cloud services we use support two-factor authentication, so that in addition to having to provide something we know (a username and a password, called first-factor) to gain access, many cloud services, including Gmail and Facebook, support two-factor authentication: Something we have. Usually this involves receiving a five-, six-, or seven-digit code from a text message sent to you, and entering it into the login screen of whatever service you’re trying to access. If your cloud services support two-factor, turn it on. If a crook guesses or gains access to your password somehow, having two-factor prevents them from accessing your cloud accounts, because it’s unlikely that they also have access to your cell phone. But not all cloud services that we use support two-factor authentication, at least not yet. So please also use strong passwords, and read this article and follow the recommendations to make your passwords themselves more secure.
Have a look at Marc Goodman’s U.P.D.A.T.E. protocol, and consider reading his book Future Crimes. He makes some good points about cyber security and how to keep yourself save and secure. Good advice, and a good read.
Windows 10’s first major update, aka the “Windows 10 Fall Update” arrives today. If you’re using Windows 10, the update should be pushed to you automatically sometime today, or you can manually grab the update from the settings menu. Read all about it here.
Concerned about security on your Android device? You should be. There is indeed malware out there for Android, as evidenced by the Stagefright malware news from back in July. And Android does have some security issues, especially with respect to older versions of Android. But what about antivirus on Android? Sure the Google Play Store is full of antivirus apps, many of which are big names that we recognize from the Windows world. But while third-party antivirus applications can work well in Windows, third-party apps on Android just don’t have the bite or power to be very effective. That’s in part because Android doesn’t give any third-party apps the sort of low-level access to the OS that Windows allows to its third-party apps. But there is some good news: Google Play Services already includes anti-virus and anti-malware code baked right in. So don’t waste your money on third-party antivirus apps for Android, they’re just not worth much. Instead keep your Android up-to-date, don’t side-load apps, and be heed any warnings that Android gives you when installing apps from the Google Play Store. And if you’re considering a new Android device, strongly consider one of the Nexus devices. These devices get Android updates directly from Google, and bypass the red tape and wait time needed to get security and other updates if you are using a carrier-branded Android device. Read more here.
Haven’t upgraded to Windows 10 yet? This might help you decide. I’ve been using Windows 10 as part of Microsoft’s Insider program since Sept. of 2014. It’s come a long way since then, and it’s very stable in its current state. It’s also very visually appealing, and now uses live tiles (aka the Modern UI) in a way that doesn’t force you into a separate user interface. In many ways Windows 10 is a return to the traditional Windows desktop environment. And, the first big update to Windows 10 is due out this month. Don’t expect plug-in support for the new Edge browser yet (that will arrive sometime in 2016), but there will be other enhancements. The most useful change may be the ability to active your Windows 10 install with a Windows 7, 8.0, or 8.1 product key. http://goo.gl/L8QnRx.
Microsoft tried to make Windows’ activation process simpler with the release of Windows 10. For the first year after release, through July of 2016, Microsoft is giving away Windows 10 to any user with an activated copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 (excluding Enterprise version of Windows). All you have to do is either download the Windows 10 ISO, or use the Get Windows 10 app which will show up automatically in your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 system tray, and then install. Your hardware signature is then registered with Microsoft, and your Windows 10 upgrade is activated without the need for a new Windows 10 product key. Reinstalling Windows 10 at a later time from “bare metal” isn’t a problem, because Microsoft will recognize the hardware signature from your previously-activated Windows 10, and allow you activate again without providing a product key.
But what you those of us purists who prefer to start with a clean slate and install Windows 10 bare metal in the first place? Microsoft has listened, and with the first big update to Windows 10 dubbed “Threshold 2,” your existing Windows 7, Windows 8.0, or Windows 8.1 product key will allow you to activate Windows 10 the first time you install. The big update to Windows 10 is expected to launch sometime in November of 2015. Read more here.
For a few years now the tech community has been aware that we were running out of IPv4 addresses for Internet-connected devices. Every device that has a public, routable IP address must have a unique address in order to differentiate it from other devices directly connected to the Internet. The mass adaptation of NAT routers which began many years ago slowed down the depletion of IPv4 addresses, but now it’s happened: We’re out. Read more: http://goo.gl/lcJyZY
Malware has struck the Apple App Store in the form of XcodeGhost. This code was used unknowingly by some app developers. Apple has taken steps to remove the affected apps from their app store, but users should uninstall any of the affected apps they have immediately. The malware steals information and attempts to get the end users to divulge additional, personally identifiable information. More information and a list of the affected apps is here: https://goo.gl/Dz1Abd.